California CIO Teri Takai Touts Successes, Says Much Work Remains

In what could be her last speech as California’s CIO, Teri Takai celebrates achievements of the past two and a half years, says there’s much work left to be done by the next administration.

by / September 9, 2010
California CIO Teri Takai Photo by Gerry McIntyre

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In what could be her last major speech as California’s technology chief, CIO Teri Takai invoked Psychology 101 when explaining how the state has improved its technology services and management during the past two and a half years, and what remains to be accomplished in the future.

Takai told an audience of private-sector IT executives on Thursday, Sept. 9, that California has made much progress on a range of issues -- from speedier procurement methods to the adoption of an enterprisewide information security plan -- during her tenure as CIO. But she said the state still has more ground to cover to meet its “basic” technology needs and position the next gubernatorial administration to focus on business-line applications instead of technology infrastructure.

Takai, who was named state CIO in late 2007, compared developing an effective California IT organization to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs -- a pyramid-shaped model for human welfare that says people cannot move on to other tasks until their basic needs, like safety and community, are fulfilled. Similarly Takai said that only after the state puts in place a robust technology platform, secures personal information and delivers successful IT projects can the organization truly impact policy and governance.

It remains to be seen if Takai’s successor -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is term limited in 2011 and Takai could be in line for a technology job in the U.S. Department of Defense -- will ascribe to such a theory. But what’s known is that come next year, the California Office of the State Chief Information Officer and the CIO position itself likely will be renamed and codified, pending legislation that’s coming to Schwarzenegger’s desk for his signature. The office will be renamed the California Technology Agency and led by the secretary of California technology, a change in nomenclature that Takai said will denote that the agency and CIO are on equal footing with other California departments.

The renamed technology agency will have the opportunity to build upon the foundation Takai has put in place during the past two years. Most prominently, she enacted a “federated” approach to IT consolidation that centralized enterprise policy under the CIO’s office but left some business decisions to the individual agencies. Takai said Thursday she knows her reputation as an IT consolidator preceded her when she came to California from Michigan state government, and that it will go with her when she leaves. She chose to do it in California not because of “consolidation for consolidation’s sake,” she said, but rather to provide the state’s basic technology needs more efficiently.

Takai counted among her biggest accomplishments the state’s ascension to No. 1-ranked state Web portal in the Center for Digital Government’s 2010 Best of the Web competition, and celebrated the state’s delivery of more than 90 IT projects in the last four years.

The state also has put more focus on project management and IT leadership, she said, as well as adopted an IT security roadmap, consolidated down to 8,200 servers and established the state’s first enterprise architecture, among numerous other feats.

However, more work remains to be done, she said, to further improve these foundational building blocks of IT. A sampling of Takai’s wish list for California’s future included “rationalizing” the state’s IT portfolio to identify and retire unnecessary and outdated systems, adopting a single statewide application for credit card processing, modernizing the state’s IT classifications for employees, and continuing to modernize the state’s legacy systems.

The state is also due to release RFPs for statewide storage and servers, as it continues to reduce data center floor space.

Although Takai has no more than a few months remaining in her current post, she said work will continue forward in the CIO’s office. The state isn’t close to being finished from a technology perspective, she said.

Matt Williams Associate Editor
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